Tuesday, September 13, 2016

International Dot Day 2016 STEAM Style

Auburn Union is celebrating International Dot Day in STEAM style this week.

Here is the link to the HyperDoc I created - CLICK HERE

I'm using the HyperDoc for my STEAM coaching classes and then sharing it with all of my teachers if they want to tackle it on their own.  

I'm letting the teachers do the first two activities without me.  The kiddos can create and color their dots.  The second activity is based on the collaborative classroom mural where you cut each student's dot in half and put it together with another student's dot to create the mural.

STEAM Activities:  (We will use Chromebooks for these)
  • For the first STEAM Dot activity, I'm having the students explore Google Draw to create their dots electronically.  The teacher and I will provide little guidance as we want them to explore, create and collaborate with each other.
  • The second STEAM Dot activity will be for the students to create a Dot animation using Scratch.  Again this will be an exploration and we will provide information as needed but we really want the students to explore and figure it out.
Happy International Dot Day/Week - ish!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Is There a Time to Quit?

Yesterday after my sixth rejection from the Google Teacher Academy/Google for Education Innovator Academy a thought entered my mind.  The thought/word is one that as a risk taker, problem solver, challenge embracer, failure learner, and determined succeeder (do you like my two new words?) never crosses my mind as I model for ALL in my district.  However, I think I have come upon my time to QUIT applying and putting myself through this process.

I put a positive spin on my first few failures, no rejections.  I learn from failures because failures provide meaningful feedback and enable a person to make tweaks and improvements.  As a standards based grading enthusiast, I turned my students so called "failures" into learning opportunities and pushed the kiddos to work on the specific areas needed to improve.  I gave my students daily feedback on their understanding so that they could make adjustments and improve instead of waiting until the unit test.

As a STEAM coach and Instructional Technology Coordinator, I model taking risks and failing forward daily for the teachers, students, administrators, and parents.  An example is the straw towers we are building this week in 1 - 5th grade classrooms: This photo is from a 2nd/3rd grade class
One of our new comer students who speaks little English built the structure that can be reversed and still hold the golf ball, can you pick that one out?

I differentiate between rejections and failures because of what I have learned from the rejections.  Because there is no meaningful feedback on the actual application, I have tried to revise and iterate without knowing what I have done well and not so well and tried to base those improvements by researching those who have been accepted.  When I look at "Famous Failures" (CLICK HERE to watch the video I show my students) they all succeeded because they had determination and feedback to drive their growth.  Even Jose Hernandez the astronaut who failed 12 times before getting in to the space program received feedback that got him one step closer after each failed attempt.

Because I like to model for my learners, it is time for me to QUIT and turn this rejection into an opportunity to model guiding our students and teachers to succeed by providing meaningful feedback and support.  I embrace failure because it really does provide for incredible learning experiences. 

My son asked me if I was going to quit trying last night.  He told me he is not a quitter and I told him I am not either.  So, this morning on our drive to school, we will have a wonderful discussion on if/when there is a time to quit and why I have chosen to do so in this instance.

Again, Google for Education has given me a GIFT in this rejection.  I have realized that everything I do as an educator is to keep my learners from giving up and quitting.  How ironic, I have what would have been my next project: Using Google Tools and Technology to Keep Learners from Quitting.  

As the Late and Great Rita Pierson said, "-18 sucks the life out of a kid, but +2 says they're not all bad"

I love Google, I love Google for Education, I love being a Google Certified Trainer, I am lucky to have many Google Certified Innovators and Trainers as friends and colleagues and I have the highest regard and respect for them all. However, to quote Samantha from Sex in the City: "I love me more."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Toothpick Structures STEAM Activity #2

Our first activity Straw Building was a sort of pre-assessment for our STEAM classes.  It enabled us to get a glimpse of the students and how they ARE in an environment that is open-ended, unstructured, and driven by inquiry.  We gave the students 30 straws and tape and let them build, create and struggle.  Most students embraced the lack of constraints placed upon them, however, there is a select group of students who struggle in this situation - the compliant, rule following, success seeking students.

The STEAM activities at the beginning of the school year expose those students who are used to succeeding with little effort and/or risk taking.  These students crumble in an environment that is open.  They play it safe and know exactly what to do to "get the A" in a traditional setting.  Outside of the classroom, these kiddos can be extremely creative, but in class they want to know exactly what and how to do everything.

At the same time STEAM activities are extremely freeing for those students who struggle to comply in a traditional classroom setting.  The open-endedness provides a no holds barred situation for the kiddos who feel confined in the traditional setting.  That being said here is our next lesson:

Toothpick Building CLICK HERE to access HyperDoc
First and Second Graders

From now on, our STEAM activities will have a HyperDoc or Multi-Media Text Sets to engage and inspire and push the students thinking.  I am gathering the lesson on this spreadsheet so that the AUSD teachers and all others can easily access the lessons etc... CLICK HERE to access STEAM Lesson Spreadsheet.  Have  a great week!